“Is that you?” I pointed with my fork.
“Used to be.” Elliot offered no explanation.
“Hmm. Were you in the service for a while?”
“Marines. A long time ago.”
We were quiet for a moment.
“I went to Panama. I was Recon, and I saw some awful things. I didn’t do so well when I came back. My unit took a pretty bad hit and I kind of got messed up in the head in more ways than one.”
“Gosh, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, I’m okay. A lot of guys I knew didn’t even make it back to complain about shit, so how can I? But for a long time I was scared to leave this house. I’d get where I was dizzy and I couldn’t breathe. I even passed out once. It happened while I was driving. So I just gave up driving. I’ve been doing better for a long time. Working on the farm helps me a lot.”
I let his words sink in for a moment.
“So what would you do if I sell the farm?”
– Chickenshit: Crisis #6 Water, Water Everywhere
In Crisis #6, Elliot starts to reach out after his mother’s death. Billie and Jodie spend more time together. When the water pump that serves the animals goes out, Elliot saves the day.
Chickenshit – Or: How a City Girl Does Country All Wrong is Volume I of a series. Available now on Kindle and on Amazon paperback. The next volume will be published in Spring/Summer of 2018.
I hope everyone survived the holidays with their dignity intact. I spent some quality time with Steph and Phil and was able to talk to a relative who is kind of hard to reach. My family and I saw a ton of movies over the last couple of weeks. We just got Movie Pass cards, and, so far, they are fantastic. I am not running an ad here, but the card works on a monthly or annual fee and you can go to go to as many movies as you want, one per day. It was a no-brainer, since it costs less per month than one full price show, and I have already made my money back. Steph and I have been making further plans to turn Chickenshit into a graphic novel, talking with illustrators and honing in on a design and format for it. If it all comes together, the book could come out later this year.
There have been a lot of stops and starts over the last week. We plan on getting to the library early, but our chores run longer than expected. We set up a meeting and have to move it because the repairman comes later in the day than expected, then has to come back because the part wasn’t right. We plan to get an early start, but someone’s addiction to Dexter keeps us up late, which causes us to sleep later than we meant to. Tsk tsk. So much beyond our control.
I do not make New Year’s resolutions, but I hope the past few days don’t prove to be an omen for the coming year. I have so many plans. Chickenshit Volume II should be published on April 1st, and volumes III and IV later in the year. My follow-up to Lookout Butte, Whippoorwill Springs, is due out for the Christmas season, and I would like to attend a few workshops and do some community events. And I want to go to the coast.
But Ontario, OR is nowhere near the coast. I have to find serenity where I can. Like Elliot, I sometimes find solace around the farm. In the early morning hours, I watch as the sun melts the hoarfrost and the orange-striped mouser stretches, stiff-legged out of her hay bale to wrap around my leg like a garden snake. In the barn, I move a goat mountain (yeah, I said that right) off me so I can throw some hay to her sisters and to the bucks. In the four-o-clock dusk, I snatch eggs from hens who are settled down for the night. They’ve squawked and bellowed the live-long day, but now I am disturbing THEIR quiet time – the gall!
At those times the empathy rises up in me.
“Hey, I just want to write, here! Why are these people/animals/vehicles thwarting me? You and me, Red. We got each other’s backs.”